Complimentary Players Fuel Saints Win Over Tampa Bay
The New Orleans Saints rebounded from a disappointing home loss last week to the Atlanta Falcons by handling the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 34-17 on Sunday. The Saints improved their record to 8-2 with the road win and widened their NFC South lead to three games thanks to a Carolina Panthers loss. New Orleans pulled off the victory with standout performances from some of their big stars, but would also enjoy impressive games from a few of their role players.
Kiko Alonso, Linebacker
Alonso tied for the team lead in tackles with six but had an impact far beyond what shows up on a stat sheet. Not known for his athleticism, Alonso showed both that and his high football I.Q. several times in snuffing out screen passes. He stepped up in the gap to shut down rush attempts for his defense, contributing to the Buccaneers’ totaling only 36 yards on the ground. Alonso also applied heavy pressure on Tampa Bay quarterback Jameis Winston on a handful of plays. His blitz flushed Winston into a key second quarter sack by Cam Jordan and Vonn Bell to stop a Buccaneer drive. Later in the quarter, Alonso tipped a pass that would be intercepted by Bell to short-circuit a Tampa Bay scoring opportunity.
P.J. Williams, cornerback
Williams moved from his primary role as the Saints slot cornerback into the outside spot normally manned by Marshon Lattimore, who sat out with a hamstring injury. He teamed with Eli Apple to provide blanket coverage on dangerous Tampa wideouts Mike Evans and Chris Godwin all afternoon, holding them to only 1 combined reception in the first half and just 7 catches on the game. Williams recorded the Saints’ 4th interception of the day when he picked off Winston in the end zone to snuff out Tampa’s last scoring chance of the day.
Nick Easton, left guard
Easton stepped into the injured Andrus Peat’s spot at left guard and performed admirably. He was part of an offensive line effort that didn’t allow a single sack of Drew Brees, allowing the quarterback plenty of time to survey the Buccaneers secondary. Easton stood out in the running game, opening up inside holes for backs Alvin Kamara and Latavius Murray. Easton’s ability to contain the Buccaneers defensive tackle tandem of Ndamukong Suh and Vita Vea, alongside center Erik McCoy and guard Larry Warford allowed the Saints tackles to focus on shutting down Tampa Bay’s edge rushes. With Peat sidelined several more games, the Saints will expect Easton to continue to play at a high level for them to maintain their excellence up front.